Rabbi Wolpe believes geography plays a key role in L.A.’s Jewish community, with Jews spread out all over the vast city; this results in vibrant but separate communities, often centered around the synagogue. “There’s not enough interaction among the various communities for us to have fights,” the rabbi mused.
Walking on Shabbat along Pico Boulevard between Robertson Boulevard and Beverly Drive — L.A.’s equivalent of the Miracle Jewish Mile, with its many ethnic synagogues, kosher eateries and supermarkets — one feels the pulse of traditional Jewish life. In most other areas of the city, though, there are few pedestrians altogether, a far cry from Manhattan’s Upper West Side, where one can hardly avoid running into Jewish contemporaries, which often leads to spirited, on-the-spot discussions.
Eshman stressed that transportation, or lack thereof, is not to be underestimated as a factor in L.A.’s communal dynamic. Since traffic is heavy and public transportation is minimal, people are wary of driving out of their neighborhoods to attend a Jewish event, he said. “Jewish L.A. is fragmented but vibrant. More people are finding new ways to express their Jewish identity” and seeking new forms of Jewish expression.
Gary Rosenblatt, “A New Generation of Seekers in Jewish L.A.”, The Jewish Week (6 February 2015), 7.